Game Buzz: Jungle Ascent

When I was at GenCon last year, the 5th Street Games people were demoing a game that would be going up on Kickstarter soon.  It was described to me as Donkey Kong the board game, and looked kind of cool.  We didn’t get to play, but it did go on to be funded.  The game was

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Jungle Ascent is a game designed by Brian Kohrman and published by 5th Street Games.  It’s playable by 2-4 players and takes 30 minutes to play. In the game, players are attempting to build a path up to the top of the Cliff of Frab using ladders, conveyor belts, and bridges.  Meanwhile, you’re trying to stop your opponents’ progress.

In the box, you get a board, 4 explored paws, 4 ownership tokens, 43 pathway cards, 17 hazard cards, and 28 effect/interrupt cards.  Each player puts their pawn on one of the marked locations at the bottom of the board.  Each player also gets five cards.

Players take turns making their ascent.  On a turn, you Move Hazards, Use Actions, and Discard Extra Cards.

MOVE HAZARDS: If your ownership token is marking a hazard, you may move it.  These include totems, crushers, fireballs, bombs, fungal growth, and the golem.  The totem just sits in someone’s way.  Crushers are boulders that roll down the cliff one space each turn.  Fireballs move up one space per turn.  Bombs explode on your next turn, destroying any overlapping cards or cards it is touching on at least one edge.  Fungal growth also lasts one round, but prevents all pawns from moving.  The golem can be moved one space in any direction for an action.

USE ACTIONS: You have two actions you can take.

  • Play a card: Pathway cards are used to get you up to the top.  These include ladders (vertical), bridges (horizontal), and conveyor belts (either orientation, and immediately moves a pawn one square in the indicated direction when stepped on).  Hazards are used to mess with your opponents.  Effects give you different special advantages.  Interrupt cards can be played on someone else’s turn to, well, interrupt them.
  • Move your pawn: Move one space orthogonally.  You can only move on pathway cards.
  • Move the golem: If you own the golem, you may move it.
  • Draw two new cards.

DISCARD: At the end of your turn, you need to discard down to seven cards if you have more.

The game is over when someone reaches the top of the cliff.  They win.

This seems like a very simple, very straightforward race game.  It sounds like there are a lot of ways to mess with each other while trying to give yourself the best shot at victory.  I can see the comparisons to Donkey Kong with the hazards moving at the beginning of each turn.  I feel like I would like having more than one per player, particularly if playing with two.

I think this game would be perfect for families wanting to have a fun exploration adventure and that find something like Escape: The Curse of the Temple a little too stressful.  The games are nothing alike (this is competitive, that’s cooperative), but I think there’s a similar ease to the rules that families should like.  It’s another one I’d like to check out some day.  The Kickstarter orders should be out soon (if not already), and you should be able to find copies soon.  I’m sure it will be at GenCon.  Thanks for reading!




  1. Thanks for mentioning Jungle Ascent! The first print run is in the United States right now, but it’s stuck in customs for some reason… Hopefully, it will be here soon, and you’ll get a chance to try it!

    Brian Kohrman, designer of Jungle Ascent

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